Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Down these Mean Streets

Hi. This is my first piece for the new blog-- New Blog, meet First Piece, Piece, Blog-- good. No fighting, OK. There's plenty of everything for everyone(which, if you think about it, is the promise and the tragedy and the threat of modern-- nay, postmodern existence. But I'm getting ahead of myself. It's not a bug, it's a feature. Anyway--). You're probably wondering why I've gathered us here today. I'll tell you why, or at least which of several shifting and contradictory rationales I'll be using to justify this invasion of your internets. It is not a search for weapons of mass instruction; nor because of the fabulous oil wealth this humble web address hides. It is because down these mean streets a man must go who--

Well, who likes to use titles and phrases that others have used already, for one thing. (One of my stories that I'm happiest with is called “John Carter, Warlord of Mars”. It's not the one you're thinking of, and it may well appear here. At some point. Not this one.) This is not Piri Thomas' searing account of growing poor in Spanish Harlem (if there's one word everybody agrees on here, it's “searing”.). Nor is it that part of Raymond Chandler's celebrated essay “The Simple Art of Murder”, toward the end of which he discusses the moral imperative of creating a detective very like Philip Marlowe. This after he had already written four novels featuring a detective who actually was Philip Marlowe.

That's the problem with foundational manifestos-- they describe reality much better when written after the fact. Even better if you can create a moral imperative for your fictional creation. Just ask Raymond Chandler. Or George W. Bush.

Bush and his henchmen, by the way, have indirectly provided the name for this little corner of the world wide web. I can go on and on about this, and probably will at some other point (not this one), but (for a brief, true example): when Dick Cheney is given the “Architect of Peace” award… at the Nixon Library… presented by Henry Kissinger-- that's when you know that the explosion you heard last night was not a backfiring ice cream truck or a gangland hit, but the sound of the planet crashing, Chuck Yeager-like, through the satire barrier. We are now moving-- wait for it-- “Faster than the Speed of Satire”. I can't tell you how many times I've written the most scathing funhouse mirror distortions of the events of the day, gone to sleep thinking that I would finally be recogniz'd as the Jonathan Swift of our day (hence 17th century spelling there, a few wyrds back), only to wake up and hear my jape on the news, as an actual fact on the ground. Maybe, like George W, or Kim Jong-Il, I should give myself credit for creating reality through the power of my ideas. But I don't. Nor should you.

So what does a satirist do when the very notion of satire becomes obsolete? Simple, Watson-- he blogs. About the shape of the world (still round, though not on the set of “The View”, apparently.). About the Haves vs. the Have-nots (Have-nots not even covering the spread.). About the fall light in the evenings in Los Hollyangeleswood, this most minor yet most elusive of the United States' Outlying Islands (we have more grinding poverty AND more millionaires than you. If you don't live here now, you will soon.). The hawks that circle the air here above my hill. Music, art, fruit desserts. You know, stuff.

When I can come up with a moral imperative that justifies these invented truths and repurposed lies, you'll be the first to know. Until then, why is today different from all other days? Because, today, I am a blog.

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